By Ann Clifford
KC’s brand-new airport terminal takes flight.
Every inch of the terminal’s 1.1 million square feet combines cutting-edge design with travel convenience. The check-in hall makes an impression with its soaring ceilings, natural light and massive 732-foot Missouri limestone wall.
Past security, the H-shaped building features parallel concourses linked by a pedestrian passage with expansive views of the airfield.
The one-of-a-kind views continue up to the door of your plane. The sleek glass — and climate-controlled — boarding bridges make KCI the largest all-glass boarding bridge operator in the U.S.
From the beginning, “accessibility for all” was the guiding principle for the design and construction team, who consulted with local experts from organizations including The Whole Person and Variety KC to meet diverse needs.
Thoughtful touches include counters at wheelchair-accessible heights, visual paging boards for deaf passengers, a sensory room, an inclusive play area and all-gender restroom options. For anxious or first-time flyers, a travel experience simulator allows passengers to practice the boarding process, take-off and landing.
From the moment you step into the airport, you know you’re in KC. More than 80% of the brands featured throughout the airport are local favorites, from iconic Charlie Hustle T-shirts to Boulevard beer. A taste of Kansas City is on the menu across 30+ restaurant options, including Bo Lings, Brown & Loe, Pigwich and Urban Café.
Of course, there’s barbecue. As the only airport in North America with barbecue smokers in-house, KCI takes the city’s barbecue tradition seriously. Concourse A features Meat Mitch BBQ, while Concourse B hosts the Kansas City Barbecue Experience, which serves up award-winning cuisine by the winner of the annual Made for KC BBQ Championship.
Thanks to Kansas City’s One Percent for Art program, $5.6 million was invested in sculptures, paintings and installations by 28 artists. One of the largest installations, Fountain (KCI), pays tribute to the City of Fountains with 20-foot-tall elliptical rings lined with white LED lights.
And look to the ceiling as you travel the moving walkways to see Cloud Gazing, recognized among the 100 most successful public art pieces in the world by the CODAawards.
The second U.S. airport to earn LEED Gold certification, the new terminal is designed to be energy efficient and resilient. The complex runs entirely on electricity, with the nation’s first all-electric airport shuttle fleet, and plans call for the construction of a solar farm to convert all operations to green energy in the years ahead.